Is dental floss good for your teeth? A dentist speaks

Yesou may have heard this, but it bears repeating: flossing is pretty vital to your oral health. For some, it comes naturally and is part of a daily routine. For others, it’s not so easy. I would say I fall somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I run out of floss and forget about it for a minute, or I get my teeth cleaned and start flossing again with renewed determination. So if you, like me, have trouble sticking to a routine of flossing, you might be wondering what the viable alternatives are. Specifically, you may be wondering if water flossers can do the job adequately.

The water flosser, popularly known as “waterpiks”, after a popular brand of water flossers. Although it appears to be a more modern device, the first “mouth irrigator” was invented in 1962, according to the Compendium of Continuing Dental Education medical library. Some confusion about whether it’s as effective as flossing, but Mansi Oza, BDS, DMD, FICOI, dual-board certified cosmetic dentist and owner of his practice, Thurmont Smiles, has some encouraging ideas.

Why does someone need to floss

Here are some quick numbers as to why flossing is essential: In a 2020 study published in the Journal of Dental Research, Researchers found that people over 65 who didn’t floss lost an average of 75% more teeth than those who did.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing twice a day with regular dental floss, interdental brushes, or oral irrigators to reduce the buildup of debris, plaque, and bacteria that accumulate between the teeth (where a toothbrush cannot reach). And any method of flossing is recommended rather than no flossing at all, the ADA says. The ADA shared in its 2016 report that it has plenty of evidence to support flossing for gum health. However, they determined that more research on water flossers is needed to understand their long-term effectiveness. Water Flossers with the ADA Seal of Acceptance have been rigorously tested and proven effective in removing gum plaque.

So is dental floss better than water floss

Before we dive into the science, it’s important to clarify the following: Your best bet is the method that helps you get to the tough spots and stick with the habit, says Dr. Oza. However, the evidence for flossing is encouraging. An older study published by the Journal of Clinical Dentistry examined the use of dental floss and regular dental floss. The researchers found that the water flossers were more effective than their analog counterparts. And a 2021 clinical trial compared the effectiveness of brushing with floss to brushing with floss and found that water flossers were a good tool for those who found flossing a challenge. . However, the results indicated that regular flossing was slightly more effective at removing gum plaque.

“Many people find [water flossers] easier to use,” says Dr. Oza, adding that water flossers don’t remove all of the plaque that builds up between teeth. “It tends to remove newly formed plaque easily, while flossing will remove more stubborn plaque. she says. However, you can rely on water flossers to reach under your gumline where flossing might not reach. The best strategy she recommends? Both.

Ultimately, water flossing is ideal for people with braces, crowded teeth, permanent retainers, mental health issues, sensory aversions, or dexterity issues. Flossing can be difficult to stick to for many reasons ranging from logistical to emotional. If you’ve gone a while without flossing, it can feel shameful to reaffirm that habit. The solution for this is an abundance of patience with yourself and finding solutions that work for you. If you feel frustrated when flossing because you can’t reach your teeth with string, a water flosser will make it less infuriating.

Dr. Oza also shared that when one does not clean between the teeth via flossing, approximately 35% of the tooth surface is neglected. Over time, this can affect your oral health and your health as a whole. So if you find something that works for you, it’s always worth a try.

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